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FAA: Whats The Rule on Helicopters?
347 15 3-27 06:11
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Bluehook
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Fairly often (2-3 times a month) I'll observe a random helicopter fly past my house at what appears to be around 100-125 feet.  The majority of my drone flying is from my house and luckily, my drone is never up when this happens.  But I shiver at the thought of one of these helicopters coming by while I'm flying my drone.


Question: is it not against FAA regulations for these helicopters to be flying this low?





3-27 06:11
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PS013
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14 CFR § 91.119 - Minimum safe altitudes: General

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a)Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b)Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c)Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
(d)Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface -
(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

(2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section
3-27 06:47
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Bob Brown
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Firstly verify that you are not flying illegaly in a NFZ. This would make your life very much suck if something bad happened and you are in violation.

Secondly (if not illegal)
I would contact the local airport manager and let them know that the helicopter's flight path directly conflicts with your drone flight path at or below 400'  and request the notice be sent to all low altitude pilots of your coordinates and area you are flying in. My guess is that pilots from then on will stop flying so low over your flight path if it is not necessary. Also a good idea to add red/white strobes if you have a lot of air traffic in your area. A collision in most cases with a helicopter will destroy your drone and cause catastrophic damage to the helicopter as the drone will surely contact the props; pilot/passenger death will most likely follow shortly after the collision.  I live very close to a class G airport myself and believe it or not communication with the airport manager has his respect as I had consulted him prior to flying drones in the area. (not required but HIGHLY recommended to do it in writing/email so you have some proof of the communication.) I also heal to any low flying aircraft even if I am below the FCC regulated 400'.

Always verify no TFR's and preflight checks are done before every flight!
Fly Safe!
3-27 07:04
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FatherXmas
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If they're military, they pretty much do what they want to. A couple days ago, six Black Hawks screamed across my house just above the tree tops, my dogs went nuts over the noise - really really LOUD!
This must be a training route, I see them a lot. However, never this low before.
3-27 07:06
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Bob Brown
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FatherXmas Posted at 3-27 07:06
If they're military, they pretty much do what they want to. A couple days ago, six Black Hawks screamed across my house just above the tree tops, my dogs went nuts over the noise - really really LOUD!
This must be a training route, I see them a lot. However, never this low before.

Sad... was this over a residential area? Very illegal and FAA should be contacted to investigate. I know they are not bound to the 500' rule but should an incident happen / residential or drone THE HELICOPTER PILOT is at fault. In a court of law a drone pilot (flying legally) , a kid flying a kite or even a large 100' TV antenna would not take the blame. Helicopter pilots know the risks with low altitude flight and thus are responsible for any collisions. (I know a few will flame me but that is what it is.) As a PIC we do our best to avoid and COMMUNICATE with the control tower/airport manager/manned AC pilots.

Keep in mind that Airplanes also violate the 500' rule...
I have had a few 200' flights over my house and honestly I shiver and try to keep my drone reflective and strobes on at all times. Anything I can do to make the drone more visable. If there is more than 2 planes in the sky... I land the drone and fly another day. Just not worth it regardless of fault or FAA laws.
3-27 07:12
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BobB
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If i was you i would just continue to fly at times you don't see them. I would not contact the FAA for nothing. Just keep doing what you're doing as to not bother them lol but ya make sure you're not in a NFZ
3-27 07:23
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Bob Brown
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BobB Posted at 3-27 07:23
If i was you i would just continue to fly at times you don't see them. I would not contact the FAA for nothing. Just keep doing what you're doing as to not bother them lol but ya make sure you're not in a NFZ

Yeah true... FAA really don't care unless there is an incident. Prevention falls upon the pilots.
3-27 07:33
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DJI Tony
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HI, thanks for the inquiry. We're hoping that you could get the best feedback from our valued DJI Forum members who flying under the FAA regulation. We would recommend always abiding by our local policy to have a peaceful flight. Thank you for continued support.
3-27 08:57
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AlansDronePics
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Although  the island I live on is only about 3 sq miles in area, the airport has an 'X' shaped runway. Infrequently the wind blows over the town and the planes fly very low over the town towards rising ground where the airport is. They fly so low, we can see the passengers faces clearly through the portholes!!!
OK, so I would know by the wind direction not to fly along the approach, but even if I didn't, knowing aircraft could come that way, would stop me flying there at any time when the airport is open.
It is never, ever worth the risk. Over the years I have seen many legal arguments where the person in the right has come off worse. Being right is no guarantee of a good outcome.
How can that be, you are probably asking. The law is the law.
More depends on the skill and cost of the legal team than the rights or wrongs. Many people go to court with a solid case, they win, but never get paid out. Legal bills can be ruinous.
3-27 12:58
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SD_Pilot
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I've also sporadically heard the sound of helicopters within the vicinity........my cue to bring down the drone immediately as it passes.
3-27 14:56
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BobB
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SD_Pilot Posted at 3-27 14:56
I've also sporadically heard the sound of helicopters within the vicinity........my cue to bring down the drone immediately as it passes.

yup it's real simple and if everyone did it we would still be flying where we wanted too like the old days dang it!
3-27 16:48
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Bluehook
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PS013 Posted at 3-27 06:47
14 CFR § 91.119 - Minimum safe altitudes: General

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Thanks all for the great info.

How could I go about finding out if there is a "route or altitude specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA" over or near my house, without directly contacting the agency?

3-27 21:04
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PS013
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Bluehook Posted at 3-27 21:04
Thanks all for the great info.

How could I go about finding out if there is a "route or altitude specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA" over or near my house, without directly contacting the agency?

That is a good question ....

Your best bet may be to contact your local FSDO ( Flight Standards District Office )
Also, I found this document for you https://www.faa.gov/about/office ... Flying_Aircraft.pdf
3-28 04:03
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FatherXmas
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Bob Brown Posted at 3-27 07:12
Sad... was this over a residential area? Very illegal and FAA should be contacted to investigate. I know they are not bound to the 500' rule but should an incident happen / residential or drone THE HELICOPTER PILOT is at fault. In a court of law a drone pilot (flying legally) , a kid flying a kite or even a large 100' TV antenna would not take the blame. Helicopter pilots know the risks with low altitude flight and thus are responsible for any collisions. (I know a few will flame me but that is what it is.) As a PIC we do our best to avoid and COMMUNICATE with the control tower/airport manager/manned AC pilots.

Keep in mind that Airplanes also violate the 500' rule...

Very rural, my closest neighbors are a bunch of cows.
3-28 05:34
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Bluehook
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PS013 Posted at 3-28 04:03
That is a good question ....

Your best bet may be to contact your local FSDO ( Flight Standards District Office )

Thank you.  That is an excellent document which makes the situation perfectly clear.

3-28 05:55
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PS013
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Bluehook Posted at 3-28 05:55
Thank you.  That is an excellent document which makes the situation perfectly clear.

You are welcome

3-28 05:59
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